The teenage years are the most difficult years for almost all parents. During the adolescent years (13 - 19 yrs) our teens are now concerned with how they appear to others. Their own ego identity is in full swing as they are trying to determine who they are and who will they become. They are moving from childhood and maturing into adulthood. Now they are back in school and being confronted with peer pressure, wanting to be “cool” and also learning responsibility. Moving from childhood into adolescence is a big shift, which for a good portion of teens, isn’t a smooth transition.
Adolescents "are confronted by the need to re-establish [boundaries] for themselves and to do this in the face of an often potentially hostile world."1. This is often challenging since commitments are being asked for before particular identity roles have formed. At this point, one is in a state of 'identity confusion'. As you see your teenager being rebellious, acting out, not following rules, etc. you as parents become frustrated, angry and unsure why the relationship seems so tumultuous.
One reason for the conflict is that us, as parents, want to continue to be the leaders of our teenager’s life. While we should be there to guide and protect, we also need to let our teenagers forage out and begin making their own decisions. They will probably make mistakes, but that is how they will learn decision making. It’s hard for us to watch this happen but as long as you are there to help them, when they need it, you will probably have a better outcome.
Roughly only 22% of high school seniors describe their family communication as positive. Therefore, one area in which parents can help teenagers through this stage is to work on better communications with them. The earlier you begin this process in adolescence the better. Below are some tips that you may find helpful.
Listed above are suggestions to get you started on better communication with your teen. I understand that you may not switch over to all of these suggestion immediately, as many of these are new to you. But if you make a concerted effort to get these incorporated in your daily routine you can count on a much better relationship with you and your teen.
1. Stevens, Richard (1983). Erik Erickson: An Introduction. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press. pp 48-50. ISBN 978-0-312-2581-2
I'm a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and families. I hope I inspire you to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised what you discover.